trail troubles

The Bruce Trail will be effected by this temporary closure as the link between Hamilton and Dundas goes through Iroquoia Heights CA. [ed.]

Illegal hunt closes Mountain conservation area
Bow hunters found in urban area

Danielle Wong, The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 12, 2009)

The Hamilton Conservation Authority has indefinitely closed the Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area after a number of deer were illegally killed by hunters armed with bows and arrows.

"(The area) was closed due to our concern for public safety," Hamilton Conservation Authority general manager Steve Miazga said yesterday. "It's not condoned by us at all."

Miazga said the Ancaster conservation park, east of Highway 403 and north of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway, was closed Friday after a Ministry of Natural Resources conservation officer confronted someone who had been illegally hunting in the area.

Miazga said the conservation officer reported the male hunter was from Six Nations and said he was conducting a "chronic waste disease control study on deer" that involved killing the animals.

"(The conservation officer) discussed the issue with a person on site last Friday and we did not get (any) indication of when that will end," Miazga said.

The authority contacted the Six Nations band council and Chief Bill Montour. Montour said he was not aware of the hunting in the area prior to receiving a letter from the authority.

"I'm not sure of what's happening at all," Mountour said.

He referred questions to Paul General, who oversees wildlife and ecological matters for the Six Nations. General could not be reached for comment.

Miazga said the conservation authority is also anxious to hear from General. The authority had no prior knowledge of a chronic wasting disease study, Miazga said.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal nervous system disease that infects white-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, moose and elk.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Ministry of Natural Resources websites, this disease has not been detected in deer in Ontario.

Miazga is aware of illegal hunting incidents Friday and Tuesday in the densely populated park, which is surrounded by houses. He did not know how many deer were killed.

The first report came from Victor Pavlicic, an avid deer photographer who was walking through the park last Friday morning when he saw a pile of deer guts just south of the park's main trail near the middle of the site. "They had cut the belly open and pulled out everything," Pavlicic, 57, said, adding the ministry told him the remains were one to two days old.

Pavlicic called his wife, who called the conservation authority and then the ministry. A ministry officer arrived at about noon and spoke to a man by his truck. Later that day, as Pavlicic was leaving the area, he found a carbon arrow outfitted with three razor-sharp blades.

"It's crazy, them being in there shooting them," he said. "They're almost like pets. They come right up to you."

On Tuesday, the authority delivered letters to adjacent homes, advising residents to stay out of the park until the problem is resolved. The letter indicated the authority is "attempting to communicate with the involved parties."

Mustafa Ghouse, 21, whose family has lived on Old Mohawk Road across from the conservation park for the past 10 years, said he and his family often see deer roaming the neighbourhood. "I could see how hunters would want (to hunt here); there are so many of them."

In January, an aerial census over a 10-kilometre radius of the city conducted by the ministry and the authority found 102 deer in Iroquoia Heights, where there would be ideally 12 or fewer.

While there may be an overpopulation of deer in the area, it doesn't justify the hunting, Pavlicic's wife, Susan, said.


Randy said…

‘We’re not going in there and killing deer’ - BreakingNews - ‘We’re not going in there and killing deer’
Six Nations man denies group was hunting in conservation area

Danielle Wong
A Six Nations resident said he and five other men were doing a “simple environmental assessment” in the Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area last Friday when they were confronted by a Ministry of Natural Resources officer.

It was a coincidence that deer guts were found in the Ancaster natural area, the same morning his group was in the area, Brian Skye said today.

“We were walking around, taking notes, doing counts of types of trees, the health of the overall area -- things like that. It was really noninvasive,” he said.

But neither the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) nor the Ministry of Natural Resources have sanctioned or are aware of any studies in the area.

Skye said he and the men were taking care of plants and animals in accordance with their treaty rights: “It’s just a controversial thing. It seems people don’t want us to do that even though it’s our right to … protect our plants and animals.”

The HCA indefinitely closed the conservation area east of Highway 401 and north of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway last Friday after a ministry conservation officer confronted someone believed to be involved with illegal hunting, HCA manager Steve Miazga said.

Miazga said the man had told the conservation officer he was conducting a “chronic waste disease control study on deer.”

Skye, who is an “environmental monitor” for the Haudenosaunee-Six Nations Confederacy, said that was an element of their study. “If you have deer population that’s overpopulated, the overall health of deer themselves might become susceptible to different diseases.”

Ministry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski said today she could not respond to Skye’s account, as the issue was still “under investigation.”

Kowalski said most of the ministry’s investigations are of violations under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and do not involve criminal charges.

But the ministry oversees chronic wasting disease surveillance in the province, and is not surveying southern Ontario this year, Kowalski said, adding the disease has not been detected in Ontario testing areas since they began the research in 2002.

Some of the guys with him were dressed in camouflage, but that’s “winter gear,” Skye said.

Skye, who also owns a catering business, said it was the first time the group had visited Iroquoia Heights, but they had conducted similar environmental assessments before. When asked where, he said he could not say because the topic is “controversial.”

Details of what the group had found during the environmental assessment were vague. “We’ve done different things in different areas ... It was basically a walk in the park,” Skye said.

Miazga said there have been multiple killings of deer in Iroquoia Heights, but did not have a number.

The conservation area will remain closed until an understanding has been worked out with Six Nations band council, he said, adding HCA cannot set patrols around the park because there were too many unofficial entrances to the site.

Skye said the group carried only binoculars, cameras and notepads.

Kowalski would not say whether the involved party the conservation officer confronted had been carrying bows and arrows.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate to say anymore at this point,” she said.

The ministry officer was “confrontational” and “adamant” they were hunting there, Skye said.

“It was very circumstantial,” he said. “It’s just being blown out. We’re not going in there and killing deer.”
Anonymous said…

In rebut to the latest article written:

When are we as Canadians going to finally devise a solution with the natives
that satisfies both parties once and for all. The cowardly obvious "pass the
buck" attitude on behalf of our municipal, provincial and federal
government/law enforcement agencies is doing little to protect the general
public and the natives themselves.

How soon will it be before there is a deadly confrontation that results in
unnecessary bloodshed. The fact that the natives claim they "can" hunt
"anywhere" they want is a childish and irresponsible statement. Just because
one "can" does not necessitate the right to do so at the risk of the general
public. How can a people supposedly so in tune with nature, the land and the
environment act with such negligence and disregard for human life.

You mean to tell me that of all the wilderness this great province offers
within legal hunting areas not to mention the vast land they can hunt on
their own reservation that the natives have to hunt in an area frequented by
the general public in a densely populated area?

Why is it that Canada, more specifically the province of Ontario, seem to
have such difficulty dealing with the native population? Why is it that we
don't hear about these types of issues in other provinces or even the United
States. It has only been a few years since the standoff in Caledonia, which
has now resulted in a civil lawsuit against the government and the OPP for
failing to protect the general public, now the natives are hunting in a
conservation park in the Ancaster area. I find it absurd that we live in
such a regulated, at times police-state like existence that a people are
permitted to do anything they want, whenever they want, wherever they want.

To legally hunt in Ontario, an individual must complete courses spanning
over 20 hours of firearms safety and hunters education before applying for
an Outdoor card designated for hunting at a cost of almost $300.00 (not
including the cost of the Outdoor card). Then, one needs to apply for a tag
to hunt a specific species and enter into a lottery which does not guarantee
permission to hunt and harvest an animal. The lottery system is in place to
limit the number of animals harvested from any given WMU (wild life
management unit) as monitored by the Ministry of Natural Resources in an
attempt to maintain healthy populations. After all of this training,
licensing fees, and lottery system, there is a long list of regulations,
exceptions, and rules that must be followed to hunt in a designated WMU
(wildlife management unit). Regulations include legal hours to hunt,
specific days of the week and weapon used to name but a few.

Whether you are a hunter or completely against hunting my point here is that
it is quite evident our provincial government has not made it "easy" for
anyone to purchase a weapon and just go out and hunt. So why on earth are
the natives allowed to hunt in an area denoted by two very discernable terms
"conservation" and "park" that is frequented by a large number of the
general public. So yet again the powers that be are failing to protect and
conserve a park and public safety.

Moreover, where are the anti-hunting groups, PETA and other animal rights
groups? Why aren't these groups outraged and protesting the natives for
their behaviour? Is this a too politically charged topic for them to be
involved? Interesting.

What is going to take for this current issue to be dealt with.... the
killing of pet, an adult, a child by a stray arrow?

Will the natives feel any empathy or sympathy if this were to happen? If
not, then there is truly a bigger problem here that no one in our government
wants to address and take responsibility for.

Where and when will this end?